Behold the Lamb of God
By Larry Short
Westboro Baptist Church (which is picketing some churches here tomorrow), says that God is really angry and He hates the vast majority of mankind. With the exception of a few “elect” (and Westboro members are few in number indeed, about 70, mostly from one family containing a disproportionately high number of attorneys), God hates us so much that He can barely wait to send us to hell and watch us fry for all eternity.
One shouldn’t have to ask … but I will anyway: Is this an accurate picture of what God is like? When you look at word pictures of God in both Old and New Testaments, do they paint a picture of an angry, vengeful, hateful, spiteful God who created us but was so taken aback by our sin that (except for a few choice, predestined elect) He can hardly wait to torture us for all eternity?
I think today’s word picture addresses that question quite nicely. If you were an angry, vengeful God and you wrote a letter trying to communicate in word pictures what you were like, which would you choose?
a) Fire-breathing dragon or other godzilla-like monster who burns entire villages or squashes buildings without thinking about it
b) Stampeding rhinoceros, blind with rage, who mindlessly mows down all that stands in its way
c) An innocent lamb, soft and tender, laying without bleating before the upraised knife of the slaughterer
Let’s look at which word-picture God selected for Himself …
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household …. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb ….
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
This Ain’t No Ordinary Lamb
This last passage is the most interesting of all to me, because here the description of the Lamb begins to depart somewhat from the soft, cuddly animal we all know and love. Seven horns and seven eyes? No ordinary Lamb here.
And in Revelation 6 this Lamb begins to open a series of seven seals, with frightening judgments being poured out from each upon an unbelieving humanity. The final few verses of chapter 6 sum up the extraordinary scene:
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
This Lamb, slain before the foundations of the world, somehow becomes something truly more terrifying than Godzilla. This Lamb who was silent before His oppressors now executes God’s wrath against the sin of a fallen humanity that spurned His blood.
But the good news is in the next chapter:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
The Lamb slain, blood applied to the doorposts in the shape of a Cross, has become our salvation. The wrath of the Lamb is against sin; but the love of the Lamb is for us!